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26 septiembre 2013

[REVIEW] Minix NEO X7 (Quad-Core) [Eng]

[REVIEW] Minix NEO X7




Acknowledgments


To Belchine store for give me a sample of Minix NEO X7 to test it and write this review.




Special note for this review


This is my first review wrote directly in english. Because english is not my native language (mine is spanish), surely i will do many mistakes on writing this. I will appreciate any correction on the article if you found anything important to be corrected, but i think most of the information on this article is technical based, and i prefer to be so "graphical" while i can, then most of the info (when i consider needed) will be followed by some picture that help to understand some of the points that i want to comment.

Because english is not my natural speaking language, most probably this review will be a little bit "decaffeinated" or "unjuiced" that a normal review where i comment freely any aspect of the device i´m reviewing. I will do my best to generate a useful article for people that wants to read something about this.

For Spanish readers, i hope will have a little bit of time to generate a proper version of this article. For now, please try to read this directly in english, or use the translate tool on this blog for generating a google-translated version.


Usage of this article


Author give permission to use this review, part of this or by a link reference, to anybody wants to use it, with only one condition that you must keep the author of this article, and the original source, that is on my blog.

There is a Spanish version on this link.

For any update for the content of this article, i suggest to visit the link avobe.



Introduction


Minix is a well known brand that manufacture some interesting devices that are focused on manufacturer quality and theri software finish. From a time, Minix means a good quality and robust brand of products, focused on Set Top Boxes based on Android.

From beginning, when i opened the box of the device i feel that i´m with a very interesting device (even without turning on). Usually i avoid to read reviews or comments of the devices i review, but this time was a little bit hard, because most of the info about this device on blogs and web are accompanied by positive comments and feedback. This make on me to raise my expectations about what i want from this device as user. Expectations are at the same height that what i finally test, but this is part of my conclusion at the end of this article. I can say that buying this device is going for sure for a quality product, but don´t expect something perfect. There are some points where Minix may work and focus their efforts on a next device, but for now, what they are offering to their customers, is a very good device that will ensure hours of entertainment on their homes.

Some friend ask to me about if this device is better than OUYA. I hate to do comparisons on my review articles, and more if i wrote a specific article (in spanish) about what i think about OUYA device. The only thing that i can say is this device  (or this kind of devices) most probably will offer what many users expect from something like OUYA (without counting their marketplace, of course), but take it easy, if you consider on buying something like this instead of OUYA, think you will need almost a decent controller, that will increase the final price of this device (and may round the double of OUYA), but depending on the needs and usage of each user, may be worth acquiring one kind of device than another.

But this is a review for Minix Neo X7, not a comparison with other devices. I will invite to you to read (and forgive my bad and rude english) and take your own conclusions about this.

Hope you enjoy with this article, and found useful.



Product showcase

(Checking of the external view of the package)


The packaging of the device come with a full informative printed box, related with the contents. Is a specific box designed for this device, and there is no information about other specs or features than the device have.


In the back side, we found a summarized table with technical information about the device.




Package contents

(Unboxing y full description of the package contents)




When the package is opened, we found the following elements thats, i understand, are part of any standard shippment for this product.



Contents:


  • Wall Charger (5V) with EURO connector standard
  • HDMI cable
  • Remote Control of the device (IR)
  • Minix NEO X7 Device
  • MicroUSB cable (for connecting device to PC)
  • MicroUSB OTG cable
  • Dual-Band Wifi Antenna (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz)
  • Setup Guide



Product description

(Enumerate of components that conform the product)


In the following section i will explain briefly each component that comform the device, listing each component existing in their structure and doing comments about these elements when i consider.

In this section i will list only the device parts that may contain elements interesting to comment.

These faces of the device that don´t containt any element i will omit.

Note: I assume that the front face is what i see when the device is on a table, with the MINIX logo is on the top face.

Front view




  • Power Led (hard to see with light. Is a blue led behind the plastic cover)
  • IR Receiver (For remote control)




Rear view




  • Service button
  • [RESET] button
  • HDMI Output
  • Optical audio output
  • USB port 1 (OTG)
  • USB port 2 (OTG)
  • Lan port (RJ45)
  • Power port

Right side view



  • [POWER] button
  • Audio output port (standard 3.55mm)
  • Microphone port (standard 3.55mm)
  • USB port (Side USB - OTG)
  • SD Card reader
  • MicroUSB port (OTG)

Left side view



  • External Antenna plug

Top view



  • MINIX logo

Bottom view



  • Serial number


Extras:



External Antenna




This is a dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz antenna. The signal reception is strong, and is useful for sending multimedia contents via AirClip (as an example)



Remote control





About the remote control

Is a IR based device, that have some (so) basic functions:


  • Android Menu
  • Android Home
  • Power (On/Off device)
  • DPAD
  • Ok Button
  • [Vol -]
  • Android Back
  • [Vol +]


These functions are enough for a basic usage of android interface, but is so limited. May be adding some multimedia buttons  (play, stop, pause) that may be used on players may be fine.

Another thing that i missed is a kind of air-mouse funcition, or some way to control mouse pointer using the DPad.

The receiver works fine, even if i try to operate the device from a open angle .

Summarizing: This remote control is enough, but lack of many basic functions that will add better functionality. I prefer to use a wireless keyboard or a flymouse to use with the device instead of this remote control.



Product information




According with the manufacturer, or searching info on web pages, we can found many sources of information about the device and sometimes these information may be not consistent (may be different from one web page to other), and this may cause some confusion for anybody that wants to get info about this product.

On this section i will post the info i get from the manufacturer (or is not possible, the web page that i consider more reliable), listing only the relevant points for a tech analysis of the product, and omit these points that don´t get any relevant info about the device (as many time we found on many pages, things such video capabilities, mail capabilities, etc, that really are software based features that we can install on the device, and not a real feature of the device itself)

  • Processor : Quad-Core Cortex A9 Processor (1.6GHz)
  • GPU: Quad-Core Mali 400
  • Memory : 2GB DDR3
  • Internal Storage: 16GB NAND Flash
  • Wireless Connectivity : 802.11 b/g/n Dual-Band Wi-Fi (2.4GHz / 5.0GHz)
  • OS : Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2
  • Video Output: HDMI 1.4a, Full HD 1080p
  • Audio Output : HDMI 1.4a two channels
  • Peripheral Interface : RJ-45 Ethernet jack (10/100Mbps)
  • SD/MMC card reader (SD 3.0, MMC V4.41)
  • USB 2.0 HOST port x 3, Micro-USB OTG port x 1
  • 3G : USB 3G dongle support (not included)
  • Headphone Jack
  • Microphone Jack 
  • IR receiver (built-in, remote included)
  • Antenna
  • Power : DC 5V, 3A adapter included (CE, FCC, CCC certified)


About the firmware


The firmware that come with the sample i tested, that is version v001 (the first), come with some features that are uncommon on this kind of devices, but must be common on for all.

First of all, the device come so clean of unwanted programs/softwares



The image avobe is the default installation of the device. There are only few programs that we can consider apart, such Gestures Builder, that help to us to generate gestures, but without a touch interface, is so weird to make gestures using a mouse.

FancyWidgets is a nice Widget app that show a clock and weather. I sincerelly prefer this app don´t come with the device, because we can install many from google playstore, but is ok for new users to android.

Another program that may be strange is RKGameControl, that is a most common app for Rockchip devices. This app help to give a interface of usage for the device, specially for touch games. The client must be installed on a phone, and give basic control over the device, simulating a gamepad or touches on screen (a mapper). The implementation is not easy and practical, but enough if you don´t have any other device to control your Rockchip device.

eHomeMedaCenter is a media player. sincerelly, i prefer to use another solutions on google market, but for users that are not familiar with google market, this media player may be useful

Finally, the AirPin service. This device come with a "PRO" version. This service is useful to play contents on remote devices, via DLNA (in example)

I tested using my Droid Razr device (with CM10.1 RC2). My phone don´t have dlna support in my custom firmware, then i installed Servers Ultimate Pro to generate a DLNA server that share my own sdcard, then i installed any dlna capable player like Media Home (Free version), find my own server (on my phone), and select Minix as receiver.

The result is that i can play music, show photos and see videos on the minix, with high quality, all from my phone wireless (via wifi)



I know, this is a so basic feature on much devices, but most probably there are many new users that don´t know how to use this feature, and for this reason i explain in short words how to connect and use this feature.

Power button

In another side, the device come with so basic options but that are forgiven in most of similar devices: when you press power button, the system show a dialog box asking what do you want to do:

  • Standby (suspend)
  • Power off (completely power off)
  • Reboot the system


Many times users must look for any app that help to do this, and add this to the desktop, without a real integration with power button.

May be a simple feature, but for sure is so useful for most of people.


Launchers



It was so gratifying to see that the device come with two launchers, and you can select wich of them you will use as normal launcher for each session.

There are a standard launcher, that come with android. This is a standard way of usage Android, with a mouse as a normal control.

The another launcher is focused on Mediacenter showcase. Most useful for usage as a normal mediacenter for enjoying media contents on the device (movies, music, etc) 


Info from the same device (Android info)


In first place, to get a reliable source of info about the system, i take some screenshots from the same device showing android system info (thata usually is insufficient), and from another software that can give us more detailed information about the system, and with this info we can get a general idea about the capabilities of the device.

Android system settings info






Antutu Benchmark System Info






Quadrant Standard Info






Z-Device Test








Benchmarks



For people that don´t know about these programs, i can tell (in short words) that a benchmark is a program or normalized test that runs on a device. These tests give points (usually, averaging many results) the performance of a device, in the way that the final total point may be useful to compare, in a simple and direct way, the general performance between many devices.

There are so many benchmarks on Google Play Store, but in my test usually i use the most populars.

For the running of these benchmarks, the initial conditions of the device are:


  • CPU Frequency: 1.608 GHz
  • CPU Governor: Performance
  • Screen Resolution: 1280x720



3DMark - The Gamer´s Benchmark

 (Google play version)


This benchmark have two parts, the first "normal" called "Ice Storm", and the second with high resolution graphics called "Ice Storm Extreme"

The final total is the averaging of all the test of the benchmark (in each of this parts)




Ice Storm





  • Total Score: 4109



Ice Storm Extreme





  • Total Score: 3152



Ice Storm Unlimited




  • Total Score: 4282


Antutu Benchmark

 (Versión 4.0.1) (Google play version)

One of the most common benchmark for android.



Results:



  • RAM : 1488.6 / 1874.2 MB
  • RAM (Operation): 2053
  • RAM Speed: 1085
  • CPU integer: 2626
  • CPU float-point: 1830
  • 2D graphics: [1280x672] 1597
  • 3D graphics: [1280x672] 2451
  • IO: 3580.2 / 4031.7 MB
  • Database I/O: 1334
  • Storage I/O: 650
  • CPU frequency: 1608 MHz (x4) 
  • Multitask: 3828
  • Dalvik: 1445
  • Total: 18899


BenchmarkPi

 (Google play version)


The main goal of this benchmark is basically to calculate PI with a fixed decimals, and based on the time taked to calculate this, rank the device in a general ranking of the same app.








  • Pi calculated in: 302 miliseconds
  • Ranking: #5752


CF-Bench



This benchmark suite is specific designed to test performance of multi-core devices, and get 3 general values (totals): Native Score, Java Score and Overall Score.








  • Native Score: 29981
  • Java Score: 8196
  • Overall Score: 16910



Epic Citadel



This benchmark generate an intensive GPU usage, using the Unreal Engine 3 and get as a final result the average framerate that the device can show the test.

Based on the kind of the devices and their features/capabilities, the benchmark can offer two or three kind of benchamark types: High Performance, High Quality and Ultra Hight Quality (This test only will be available for devices ables to run this benchmark).



    High Performance

    • Average FPS: 72.8






      High Quality


      • Average FPS: 72.4


      MikuMikuBench



      Just another OpenGL ES 2.0 based benchmark This app calculate the FPS of the test and generate a final score according with the variation of these fps, and do all of this using the well know character Hatsune Miku for the rendering.



      • Total score: 5394


      Nenamark1



      This benchmark is designed to test OpenGL|ES2.0, and will show graphics with a variety of effects such reflex, dyamic shadows, lights, etc. This version was designed for medium-low devices, but i run as a standard in any device that i write a review.





      • Total score: 60.1 fps



      Nenamark2



      In the same way as the previous version, this benchmark is designed to test OpenGL|ES2.0, but in medium-hight devices. In the same way, this benchmark show graphics but with Hight Resolution, and apply effects such reflex, dynamic shadows, light, etc.






      • Total score: 60.1 fps



      Quadrant Standard



      This benchmark is one of the first dedicated software for testing devices, and become a reference, but currently i use as a informative way, because this app don´t have multi-core support, then their results don´t get a reliable source of information, beause the performance of 1 core running on the device is not the same if the device can run with 2 or more cores, where distribute proccessing and run more relaxed in genearl, giving a better score to the system.





      • CPU: 14835
      • Mem: 4878
      • I/O: 5218
      • 2D: 200
      • 3D: 2459
      • Total: 5518



      This becnhmark is a testing suite, that basically are routines for HTML5 and CPU specific (Metal) testings.








      • HTML5 score: 2229
      • Metal score: 497



      Official firmware




      The official firmware of the device is useful for, in example, if we have a "soft-brick", caused by some mods on the system and the device cannot start in a normal way.

      For these cases, is good to get a way to recover the device, and one of these ways is getting the official firmware (and the steps to flash it)

      The firmware you can get from the official site of the device:

      http://www.minix.com.hk/Products/MINIX-NEOX7.html

      specific link for downloads

      http://www.minix.com.hk/Support.htm

      At the moment of writing this article, there is available for download the firmware v005 on the official page.

      In the FAQ section, we can see that they included a new OTA feature on their system, from v004 of the firwmare. For now, i don´t see any update on the device, because I´m using v001 firmware (that come without OTA feature)

      OTA means "On The Air" updates. When the device connect to the servers of Minix, if there is any new update available, the system will automatically will download and install (with some confirmations from user)

      For manual update, follow the steps that come with the update file (in chinese, but you can translate easy with google).

      The next are the general steps on installing the official firmware:


      • Install drivers for the device. Please refer to the Custom Firmware section where i explain how to install this.
      • Once you get drivers correctly installed, then you must open the Flash Tool for flashing the firmware




      • When you connect the devcie, and if all is ok, then you will get one of the "connected devices" slots in green
      • Following image is from another device, but i will use as example about green button:




      • On the "FW Path", click on "..." button and select the ".img" file for your firmware (in this case, the X7mini_20130912.img)







      • Click on "Restore" button (not upgrade)
      • Screen will display a yellow slot indicator, and a percent of progress (folowing screen is from another setup process, but is only an example)





      • The system is updated!.


      Take note: The first boot take a very long time. Let this process to finish completely (do not quit power or shutdown the device).

      Wait about 5 minutes for get all ok.


      Device Rooting


      One of the best things that take advantage on Android, is precisely get the device rooted and the superuser privileges enabled for our needs.

      There are so much users that have scared about the methods to get root on their devices, and for this they don´t get encourage to root it, limiting their experience because there are so much apps that uses this feature. Applications such Titanium Backup or Tincore Keymapper (for mention few) requires root acces to work property.

      The device come pre-rooted from manufacturer. For getting full root support, i followed the steps from this page on AndroidPC forum, using the most common system for rooting: TPSarky

      Before start, there are two ways to connect the device to computer for doing the rooting process. Using a microUSB cable, where you need to install drivers in windows, and get adb running ok with your device and computer.

      The another way is using Wired LAN cable, and remote adb (that come enabled by default on the device)

      If you´re thinking on installing a custom firmware on the device, i suggest to use the MicroUSB method (the most traditional) to connect PC to your Minix.

      If you only want to root, use the second way.

      I uploaded a modded version of the pack posted on AndroidPC forum, where you can use the normal way (using microUSB cable), or a modded version (using LAN)

      The only thing you need to know using LAN version, is the ip from your device.
      For this, go to system settings, ethernet (must be enabled, and wifi disabled), and use menu button for getting information about your ip on the device. The ip is a number with a patter like XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX

      In example, most common pattern may be:
      192.168.1.100

      On both cases, the script is explained itself en all their steps:


      • Download the following file and unpack on your hard drive (on windows based PC)
      • Go to command prompt (start-run-cmd.exe)
      • Go to the directory where you unpacked the downloaded file
      • For microUSB run "root", for LAN version run "rootLAN {your_ip}"


      Follow on screen instructions

      you´re done!

      (Pending uploading these files)



      Custom Firmware



      A custom firmware usually is a firmware stock with some moddings, via tweaks or compiled directly from source code (if this exist), and generating an optimized version of the original system.

      Beside the above, the custom firmwares can add new functionality to the device, that originally don´t get in the firmware stock such bluetooth usb dongle support, gamepad support, fixing framework, updating modules, CIFS, etc.

      Currently there are almost two custom firmwares for this device (may be there are more). I installed a classic Finless for this, because is one of the most known.

      Custom Firmware Finless 1.5a


      Source, info and download links are located on their own thread in Freaktab forum.

      The summarize of the installation may be the following:


      • Connect the Minix NEO X7 to your PC (Via MicroUSB).
      • Download the files on the previous link and unpack on somewhere you can locate quickly
      • With Minix power off, plug MicroUSB cable and connect to your PC
      • With a paper clip, introduce on the little hole in back of Minix. You will feel a "click" button. Keep this button pressed and, at the same time, power on the device.
      • Windows will recognize a new device but cannot install their drivers. This is ok.


      The process avobe we will call as "Flash mode" steps




      • When windows ends on trying to install the device, go to device manager (My PC, right click, manage, device manager) and you will see an unknown device with yellow sign
      • Right click on this item, and select "update drivers"
      • Windows will ask about how to seach these drivers. Select "Search drivers on the computer"




      • Next, click on "Browse" and point to the folder where you unpacked the files. There is a "drivers" folder.
      • Select the folder that is for your windows installation.





      • Click "Next"
      • Windows probably will show a warning about the drivers you´re installing. Simply allow to be installed. Optionally you can check the "always trust in this software editor" option.





      Finally, your drivers are installed




      Now, and most important. After installing this, you MUST reboot your PC (diconnect Minix from PC and then reboot)


      • Once your windows is online again, got to "Flash Mode" steps again. 
      • Open the "Finless ROM Flash Tool v1.37" program
      • If all is all is ok, windows will recognize correctly your device and Flash Tool will show the "Found RKAndroid Loader Rock Usb" text in the bottom.






      • Now, you can flash directly, or do some changes.
      • Finless add some optional parameters. In my case, i change the "boot" to the boot image with AirPin install, but you can let this without touch anything. This default installation will be the most standard, and no AirPin installation will be made (you always can install this later)
      • After doing the changes you want (or not), press the "Erase NAND (IDB)" button.





      The system start erasing the nand of your device, and display a progress count from 0 to 4096. when done the system will show a message



      Now, your system is empty. there is no firmware on it.
      If the above process fail, then reboot your device in "Flash Mode" and do again the "Erase NAND (IDB)"

      At this point, we will install the rom with "Flash ROM" button.
      The system start the flashing process, showing some info on the right panel. Check if there is any error message. If is the case, start again and flash the rom.



      When the process finish correctly, you will get your device with a new custom firmware!

      Take a note that the first time you boot the system, this will take a looooong time. Please, be patient. This is normal, and may be take some minutes. Wait for 5 minutes. If the system cannot boot normally, then go to FreakTab and check for more info, but my suggestion is to reflash again and check and recheck if there is no error messages.

      This ROM do some improvements and fixes on the system, and set their ID as Samsung Galaxy S2 for better compatibility in Google Play Store.


      Game Performance


      As usual, the most common way to show the performance of a device is running and playing games, android natives and emulated (roms) using emulators.

      A continuación muestro una serie de vídeos con distintos juegos y emuladores en acción en el dispositivo, y algún comentario con lo mas destacable o con información extra sobre el tema.



      Android Games




      Android games are specific for touch screens, and may use another device sensors such tilt sensor, and most of them show on screen controls to interact with the game, but only few of them have native joystick/gamepad support.

      For now, there are some alternatives that we can use to bring these kind of support (joysticks/gamepads and other devices) on these games, bringing another way of playing using physical controls. Most of these alternatives are based on emulating the events and mechanisms that the device originally support for interact with the games. Most of these events are touch screen based, then this kind of apps will "emulate" these touches, linking physical controls (buttons, sticks) to screen locations.




      From the current alternatives and for doing my testings (giving support for a virtual touch interface, giving special attention on devices such Android Sticks/Android TV/Set Top Boxes that don´t have a real touch interface, but not limited only for these kind of devices), I'm using the Tincore Keymapper for providing gamepad support for games that have touch screen interface. I test devices using many gamepads/joysticks i have, searching for suitables controllers that can be used with the device, including keyboard and mouse too for interact with games.

      In the videos that i capture, i try to show what happen on the screen enabling the Android visual feedback (Settings>Developer options>Show touches). With this enabled, people who see my videos can se where is the virtual touch control is working on the screen, when i´m using any kind of devices that can interact with the device (gamepad, keyboard, mouse, touch screen, etc). This feedback appears on the screen as white circles that blink (when pressing buttons), moving (for swipes), moving in many directions (for sticks/dpad), etc. This interaction correspond to a emulated finger touches on the screen surface. I consider so important this kind of information (visual feedback) to be captured on video, and for this reason most of my videos includes these white "circles" or "dots" on the screen.


      Dead Trigger





      A popular game that can be played using gamepads, because have native support for it.

      In the vídeo, i´m using a Sixaxis Gamepad, with the Sixaxis Controller App to pair and connect.

      In game, i configured the gampead, assigning each button for actions game. The result is a shotter that can be enjoyned using a gampead, and giving a full inmersive experience.

      The game can run using full HD Graphics, and run well and smooth.


      Bard's Tale



      One of my favourites games on the playstore. Graphics for this game are intense HD, and is a good game to feel how the device works, most important, the data storage works, because the game load dynamically all the contents, while user plays on it, then if you have a slow card reader, then the game will show with slowdowns.

      The game runs ok, clear and smooth.


      R-Type



      Classic arcade shooter that becomo to an android version. The game have native gamepad setup, and i use a Sixaxis (via sixaxis controller app) to play directly.


      Gangstar Rio



      A GTA style game that run smooth on the device. To play, i used Sixaxis controller and Tincore Keymapper to map sixaxis on screen (in fact, i don´t like sixaxis touch editor)


      Shadowgun (normal version)



      A classic FPS game on android, and part of many reviews of devices. This game have direct support for gamepads, and you can play smooth on the device. You will forgive you´re on an android device, and you will inmerse on a desktop gaming console!


      Real Racing 3



      A game well knowed by their graphics. The game looks and feel superb, but there is a little issue with the audio that make a constant echo or double sound.

      To play this i used Sixaxis Controller and Tincore Keymapper, and change the game settings to handle it with a control layout that will be useful to be handled via Tincore.


      After Burner Climax



      A game a little bit different of any other i usually test on my reviews. The game run and feel ok on the device.


      Modern Combat 3: Fallen Nation



      This saga give a serious FPS alternative to Android games. This is the third part of this saga, but bring the same experience on gaming like the last of them. A totally immersive FPS game that runs smooth and nice on the device.

      I´m using Sixaxis (with sixaxis controller app), and Tincore to map controls on screen. In the game i configure to use two virtual sticks to map directly to analogs on the controller. The game can be played in very handly way with this config.


      Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour




      A game that cannot be apart of any review. Good graphics, good gameplay, etc.

      The game runs and feel great, even using Tincore (and sixaxis), the feel of this game is something serious from a normal desktop gaming device.


      N.o.v.a. 3



      Another common gaming for testing devices. In this case, the game run with some issues (performance), and there is no sound (or only glitches). Most probably, using another firmware i will be able to run flawesly this game.


      Sine Mora



      A beautiful shooter game, that run and look superb on this device. I use tincore to do simple mapping to the game interface, and this is so responsive and feel so smooth.


      Six Guns



       The android version of "Red Dead Redemption" game. Controls are a little bit hard to configure (with Tincore), but the game can be played well.


      Need for Speed Most Wanted



      A game that is near from what you can get from desktop gaming consoles. A serious title that run smooth and flawlessly on the device, and can be controlled fully via Tincore keymapping, and setting some options in game such control layout.



      Emulation (Playing emulated games)





      In the same way that Android games are an important way of testing the performance of a device, emulation is another factor to get in concern, and most important, for systems that are quite hard to be emulated, because with these emulators/roms we can see differences between devices. (most of times, the pure power of a CPU/GPU can run better a game in a device, and get poor performance in another device)

      In Android, we get many emulator alternatives (emulated systems) that we can recreate on the device that we are testing. We can use emulators of old computers, videogame consoles, and is possible to run some x86 system (MS DOS, windows 9x but so limited), and we can run most modern systems such Nintendo64, Playstation one (PSX), both of these emulators are consider the top of the current frontier of emulation, but this is not limited to these systems. There are new emulators that most probably will become the new top/frontier, with emulation of PSP that many games currently are playables with near of 100% of speed, or Nintendo DS, that currently is able to run many titles.at full speed (or near to)

      This way, we can say that the emulators are important than Android games en terms of entertainment, and for this reason are a big and important part of any testing planning of any device.



      DraStic (Nintendo DS)


      In the current state of the Android emulation, this is the most interesting and surprising emulator on the market. This app is able to emulate many commercial games, with full speed (or near to) and in a short time this emulator become as one of the most popular apps of this kind on Google Playstore.

      This emulator run flawesly in most of devices with average specs (dual core and up)


      Fifa 09



      The game run smooth and with any problem. emulation is "perfect". for this demo, i´m using a X-Arcade connected to the device, and mapped/configure directly on the emulator.


      GRID



      A 3D game running on the NDS emulator, and run fine. all games that don´t request a pointer, run flawlessly and are good alternatives to play as normal desktop console.

      For pointers, i recommend to use normal mouse devices to emulate touches, because will bring more near experience to the original device.


      PPSSPP (Playstation Portable PSP)



      The only PSP emulator for Android. This app can run many games in a playable way, and get so many updates to improve their emulation and new features.


      Tekken 6



      Most possible i can adjust some parameters on the emulator to run better, but without touchin nothing, you can see how this game work on the device directly.


      Assassins Creed



      I saw some videos where some guys can play this with good performance and less graphics glitches. I don´t know how to configure convenient the emulator, but this is what you get running directly the game.


      Lego Indiana Jones 2



      This game run smooth and with few minor glitches. Fully playable and run smoothly and a recommended game to try this emulator.


      Mame4Droid Reloaded (Arcades)



      Personally, i think this is the best arcade emulator on the Store. I prefer this (for arcade) instead of another alternatives than Retroarch or similar, because many titles run smoothly than another emulators.


      Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3




      A game that is known hard to be emulated smoothly. Last time i tested using Retroarch and their specific options for Mortal Kombat games, but this time i test using Mame4Droid Reloaded, and the game run well. I think Retroarch emulation is fine than this, but this is only a test running the game.



      Mortal Kombat 4





      Following the Mortal Kombat sage, this game is another hard to be emulated. The game run... well, is not playable, but the test i think is interesting about what the emulator and the device can emulate.




      Tekken Tag Tournment





      This game is a forced test. I know that this will not run fine, but i want to check how it run with pure power of the device.

      The game is not playable, but is so interesting on see how it run.


      Soul Calibur



      Another game that i know will not run for now, but i use as testing. I'm waiting for the day that android users will get a playable Soul Calibur on their devices (in the same way as IOs users)

      The game is not playable, but the emulator can move it.


      X-Men vs Street Fighter




      Another of my classic games to test. The title run smooth, and without slowdowns. The emulation is perfect in my opinion.


      Street Fighter The Movie




      Another old school game. A freak version of Street Fighter that many of us (i think) play on arcade saloons (Van Damme... what do you do to Guile?... no comments).

      Tha game run ok. The video shows a very good emulation speed (the game run in this way, there is no slowdowns)



      Retroarch Playstation (PSX)



      This app really is a suite of emulators integrated in the same interface. Using a common interface, many options are easy to configure, because many of these configs are common between all of the emulators, things such Screen Config, Button Mapping, etc.

      This last time this app get important updates that include new cores, and most important, improve performance and features. This solution is an All in One app, that try to get most of the current emulator cores on Android running in the same app.


      PSX - Metal Gear Solid 



      Classic videogame that is useful to use as test, because many people know it and know how it must run.

      In my opinion, the emulation is fine. I'm using a X-Arcade on this demo (i forgot to change the controller for testing this with a sixaxis)



      PSX - Strider 2





      An action game that run without problems.


      PSX - War Gods



      Who remember this game? I played this on arcade for many time (but now, i´m a complete noob trying to play this)

      The game have some audio issues, but is iplayable in general words.


      PSX - Tekken 3



      This is one of the most common testings that users do in PSX emulation. The game run well, with good speed and no problems in general.


      Pros, cons and improvements.



      As in every product, there are pros and cons points that are good to mention in a clear way. These points will help to us to decide if the device features are enough for what the user are looking for in a device of this kind.

      Pros are based on features that highlight, comparing the device with another similars, or these features improve the experience of the user.

      In the another hand, the cons are these points that worse the experience, or the feature is not enough for fulfill what we expect from the device.

      Finally, the improvements pints are some features or specs that i think must be improved in a supposed new version of the device, and will generate a better experience in my opinion.


      Pros




      • Very good material quality, robust manufacture and nice look and feel. The device appears to be and is serious.
      • Good ammount of USB ports. 3 Standard and 1 MicroUSB
      • Audio Output Port
      • Audio Input Port (Microphone)
      • The bluetooth module integrated works fine. No disconnections and is so responsive for Bluetooth Controllers such Sixaxis (via Sixaxis Controller App)
      • Very  good quality external antenna
      • System come very clean. No bloatsoftware, no unnecessary programs.
      • Good size for app partition. By default, come with 1GB
      • CIFS support in stock firmware
      • Cold working. I do not perceived very hot zones on the device before an intense usage.
      • New OTA feature included on new firmwares.
      • Including options for standby, turn off and reboot the device when pressing power button.
      • Is a bad point that the original firmware freezes/hang or reboots the device frequently, but is a positive that the manufacturer keep a line of updates for this device, and solve problems like this. In fact, in the same page, the manufacturer keep giving support (releasing updated firmwares), for older versions of this device. This is a very good sign in my oppinion.



      Cons




      • There is no dedicated ventilation slots on the device. Is not a very important point, because i do not perceived warming on the device, but ventilation may help to keep cold to CPU
      • Remote Control is so basic, so most probably any keyboard or device will bring more functionality.
      • The remote control need to handle in any way the mouse pointer on the screen to become useful
      • No info about what is and how to use AirClip service.



      Improvements




      • Add a sort of flymouse to the package, or adding this functionality to their remote control
      • Add an all in one card reader
      • Add led indicators for common operations: wifi traffic, lan traffic, sdcard access, etc.



      Conclusion



      This device is one of the best of this kind that i tested, but is not perfect.

      Manufacturer appears to be serious, and is concerned about bringing news updates for their devices, inlcuding this Minix NEO X7 that from their release date (on july?) up today, they releases 5 firmwares, adding fixes and improvements to the device.

      The device runs well with the stock firmware and will be enough for most of users, but there is a custom firmware from Finless that give some extra features that some users will appreciate.

      I think that any customer that will consider in buying this device, will get a quality product and most probably will be a smart and advantage buy, instead other cheapest alternatives that most probably fail on other points.

      Set Top Box is a very smart alternative, because their internal space give to the device a way to get ventilated and run cold. TV Sticks have these kind of problem, that need a very good way to keep ventilated the CPU/GPU, and avoid hangs and reboots of the device.

      Bluetooth responsive is good, and enough for transform this device in a full featured desktop gaming retro-console, bringing a complete solution of entertainment for home.


      Final words




      I want to apologize again about my english, because i sure do many mistakes, and i´m not so comfortable to talk freely about what i want, but hope main ideas and concept are ok for most of people, and be understandable.

      Writing this was a bit... harder for me, but personal enriching, and i want to do again in future, writing directly in english, because i know many readers uses google translator to read these articles (and i´m so glad to know many people do it)

      Was a pleasure on giving all this info for you, and most of all, i hope this will be useful for those people that want to read about this device.

      Zalu2!

      Deen0X

      1 comentario:

      linxtek informatique dijo...

      multiplayer for minix
      http://www.pinterest.com/linxtek/android-mutiplayer-tv-set-top-box-console-games/

       

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